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City council addresses 11 code violations

by Dolores Hamilton
Public hearings to determine if structures on 11 properties are “substandard” as that term is defined in the city’s Code of Ordinances and be abated were held during Monday’s meeting of the city council.
A majority of the owners agreed that the buildings on their property are substandard and told their plans for either tearing down the structures or bringing them up to code.
Council took the following action:
301 E. Ruby, wooden residential structure - owner said he has no problem with abating the structure and was given 60 days to get a permit and start the work.
703 E. Jefferson, wooden residential structure - owner given 45 days to bring the structure up to code.
401 E. Ruby, wooden storage-type structure - owner given 45 days to get permit and make repairs.
310 S. Colorado, metal/wooden detached garage - owner given 45 days to abate or the city will do it.
304 W. Pecan, metal/wooden utility building/carport - owner has moved to Michigan and has someone taking care of the property for him. Owner was given 45 days to abate.
105 W. Garden, wooden residential structure - owner was given 45 days to make repairs.
315 E. Crystal, manufactured home - owner given 45 days to abate or remodel.
401 E. Lafayette, detached wooden accessory building - owner asked for 60 days to get it cleared out. Was given 60 days to demolish structure.
804 Van Horn, fire-damaged brick and wooden residential structure - owner given 45 days to abate.
107 James, fire-damaged wooden residential structure - owner given 45 days to abate.
904 S. Wall, wooden residential structure - owner’s foster son and sole caretaker was given 60 days to get a permit and abate.
In response to hearing that the damage at one location was noticed when the code enforcement officer was driving down an alley, Councilwoman Lori Shierry was not pleased. “I’d like to say I’m not happy that we’re looking at this from the alley, I think there’s a lot of houses and businesses we can look at from the street and send out notices,” she said. “I don’t think we need to go down people’s alleys to see the back of the house. That reeks of being a bully.”
City Manager Jerry Flemming told her that it’s necessary to drive down alleys to make sure they are clear in case emergency vehicles need to get through.
In other business, Jerry Gholson, representing Highland Cemetery Association, spoke to the council about raising the amount of donations to the cemetery that are added to the city’s water bill. The standard donations are 10-cents each for Christmas lights, walking track/lights, and cemetery. Water customers can increase or decrease their donations.
Gholson said money from the donations is used for maintenance and upkeep, and in the past year they have only broken even one month. “They are just barely making ends meet,” he said. Flemming agreed saying, “It takes a lot of money to take care of a cemetery.”
The council voted to raise the amount to $1 for the cemetery donation on the water bills.
Flemming emphasized that all donations are voluntary and customers can either leave it the same, increase the donation, or opt out.
Police Chief Robert Johnson was given permission to use City Hall Park for the “Community Chow Down” event on Sept. 29 during the homecoming celebration.
The bid of MWH Group was approved for the city’s auditing services. Their fees of $22,750 is the same as last year.
The city manager gave the quarterly financial report, and Councilwomen Sherrie Williams and Lori Shierry, and the city’s financial officer Becky Ferguson were appointed to a committee to re-invest a certificate of deposit that matures in August.